May 15, 2011
The 21st Annual Female Sol Belize Cross Country Cycling Classic kicked off at 8:30 this morning from San Ignacio with 15 ladies, 4 above last year, having decided to brave the 70 miles of track into Belize City.
Of the 15, 4 were foreigners alongside 11 local riders.
The race was extremely exciting particularly because it was all competition into the finish line between defending champion of Team Sagitun, Shalini Zabaneh, and Sarah Tussey originating out of North Carolina and riding for Hicape Girls. They had broken away from the pack in the first two miles of the race and by the time they reached Georgeville, they had a 3 minute lead and from there, they never looked back. This was a marked difference from last year’s race when Zabaneh led a “one woman race,” riding unchallenged from Ontario Village where she broke away from the pack.
Forecasters were predicting a Sara Tussey win, particularly because she won the Queen of the Hills Award which is bestowed on the rider who first crosses the majority of the 7 hills in the race, but also because she is the USA Cycling 2009 Masters Road National Champ.
But with two prior female cross country wins under her belt, Shalini remained true to her record and won 1 of the Queen of the Hills station prizes and several others.
Nearing the finish line, Shalini bolted for a sprint while Sarah Tussey put up a tussle but never managed to outshine Belize’s own.
Shalini Zabaneh rode the 70-mile race in 3 hours 44 minutes and 8 seconds breaking her own record last year when she finished the race in 4 hours 26 minutes and 21 seconds. Shalini was met with ecstatic supporters who were appreciative that the Cross Country garland, at least for the females, will remain home.
Nancy Jones, another foreigner who was also riding for Team Hicape rounded off the 3 top winners.
Shalini takes home 2000 dollars cash from Sol Belize and a trophy along with the garland.
Article courtesy KREM News & Alindy Amaya